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Steppenwolf-Born To Be Wild


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Tossing wristwatches away, two bikers hit the road to find America in Dennis Hopper's anti-establishment classic. After a major cocaine sale to an L.A. connection (Phil Spector), free-wheeling potheads Billy (Hopper) and Wyatt, aka Captain America (Peter Fonda, who also produced), motor eastward to party at Mardi Gras before "retiring" to Florida with the riches concealed in Wyatt's stars-and-stripes gas tank. As they ride through the Southwest, they take a hitchhiker (Luke Askew) to a struggling hippie commune before they get thrown in a small-town jail for "parading without a permit." Their cellmate, drunken ACLU lawyer George Hanson (Jack Nicholson, replacing Rip Torn), does them a "groovy" favor by getting them out of jail and then decides to join them. Babbling about Venusians, George discovers the joys of smoking grass, but an encounter with Southern rednecks soon proves how right he is about the danger posed by Billy's and Wyatt's unfettered life in a country that has lost its ideals. With the straight world closing in, Wyatt and Billy try to revel in New Orleans with some LSD and hookers (Karen Black and Toni Basil), but the acid trip is shot through with morbidity. Once they reach Florida, Billy raves about attaining the American dream; Wyatt, however, knows the truth: "We blew it."

Produced and directed by two Hollywood iconoclasts with under a half-million non-studio dollars, Easy Rider shook up the languishing movie industry when it grossed over 19 million dollars in 1969; it captured the spirit of the times as it woke Hollywood up to the power of young audiences and socially relevant movies, along with such other landmarks of the late '60s as Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, and 2001. Shot on location by Laszlo Kovacs, Easy Rider eschewed old-fashioned Hollywood polish for documentary-style immediacy, and it enhanced its casual feel with improvised dialogue and realistically "stoned" acting. With a soundtrack of contemporary rock songs by Jimi Hendrix, the Band, and Steppenwolf to complete the atmosphere, Easy Rider was hailed for capturing the increasingly violent Vietnam-era split between the counterculture and the repressive Establishment. Experiencing the "shock of recognition," youth audiences embraced Easy Rider's vision of both the attractions and the limits of dropping out, proving that audience's box-office power and turning Nicholson into a movie star. The momentarily hip Academy nominated Nicholson for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, and Fonda, Hopper, and Terry Southern for their screenplay. Though none of its imitators would match its impact, Easy Rider remains one of the seminal works of late '60s Hollywood both for its trailblazing legacy and its sharply perceptive portrait of its chaotic times. ~ Lucia Bozzola, All Movie Guide

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Easy Rider and Born To Be Wild

The only thing I can say here is what the movie and the song mean to me.The movie and the song are about freedom.Here we have two young guys with no jobs or family ties to hold them down.The open road beckons.They come and go as they please like two wandering cowboys in the old west but instead of horses they ride Harley Davidsons.There's a thrill in wondering what's around the bend or over the next hill.Wild women and free love or Sex,Drugs and Rock N Roll.What could be more exciting than that?I really envy these guys.To be young with a cool motorcycle and plenty of money.I love that and I dream about it.Captain America is the chopper with tons of chrome and the American flag painted on the gas tank.It's the most famous motorcycle ever and has been replicated over and over again.Hey!!

Get your motor running

Head out on the highway

Lookin' for adventure

In whatever comes our way

Here and god are gonna' make it happen

Take the world in a love embrace

Fire all of your guns at once and

Explode into space

I like smoke and lightning

Heavy metal thunder

Racin' with the wind

And the feeling that that I'm under

Like a true nature's child

We were born, born to be wild

We can climb so high

I never want to die

Born to be wild

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John Kay, born Joachim F. Krauledat in 1944, was a German immigrant who settled in Toronto in 1958. He formed the blues flavoured band Sparrow, later relocating to the West Coast of America where he formed Steppenwolf, named after the Herman Hesse novel. The band's first and biggest hit was "Born To Be Wild", which featured in the opening sequence of the cult classic movie "Easy Rider" in 1968. The track reached number 2 in the States in 1968, and number 30 in the UK in 1969, re-entering the UK chart and reaching number 18 in 1999. The band had no further UK hits, but "Magic Carpet Ride" and "Rock Me" were top 10 hits in the States and a handful of other tracks made the charts there between 1969 and 1974. There have been several incarnations of the band, with John Kay being the only constant.

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Dennis McCrohan

a.k.a. Dennis Edmonton

a.k.a. Mars Bonfire

BORN Dennis McCrohan - Apr. 21, 1943 - Oshawa, ON, Canada More info here

Hi Foxy,

I searched everywhere for an interview with Mars Bonfire but found nothing.I wanted to know what inspired him to write the song and how he felt about it becoming a biker anthem.It seems no one has ever asked him.

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